Dec 30, 2020

Trapplications II

Five years ago, I wrote the original Trapplications post. After years of updating it based on use, it's time to present the more streamlined version I've adopted. This version is better for stocking and restocking dungeons, while also remaining usable in play as a "wandering trap" table.

To recap: To use this table, you roll 2d6 and 1d6 at the same time and the results determine which entry on the grid occurs. If using it during play, I roll about once per 10-minute exploration turn because it's easier to remember to do it that way. If I'm using it for stocking, I roll it once per room, and then once more per room every time I restock the dungeon, and occasionally for corridors with prominent room-like features.

The big update is the categories for the 1d6. I redesigned them because these ones are easier to understand and less work to create than the old set, with a clear progression in proximity, danger, and imminence between the three options on the table, and the need to only create 3 columns of content instead of a full six.

They are now:

1 - Null
2 - Null
3 - Null
4 - Signs
5 - Danger Zone
6 - Trigger

"Null" results mean nothing - no trap, no problem. These results help with stocking by ensuring that some rooms lack traps. 

"Signs" means indirect signs of the trap's operation - corpses strewn around, poison darts littering the floor, the sound of grinding gears or whirring blades far ahead. The intent is that they can be spotted ahead of the trap being an actual danger.

"Danger Zone" means one or more PCs find themselves in the area of effect of a trap that has not yet activated. When stocking, it means that trap has an area of effect that one can enter into without automatically triggering the trap. If the PCs freeze in this state they'll be fine, but the challenge is to extricate themselves without triggering the trap (perhaps by dismantling or jamming it?).

"Trigger" means that a trap triggers or is about to trigger with a PC in its area of effect. When stocking, it means a trap that can't be noticed through passive observation until it's triggered (a careful search of the area might reveal it ahead of time). 

I tend to make the entries here the actual triggers of the traps, even tho' this will require a bit of adaptation if you're using it in play when the specific object isn't necessarily present. Reusing triggers for traps helps PCs learn what kinds of things in this dungeon are likely to be dangerous and gives them an extra chance to avoid them, while also bringing a certain conceptual coherence to the traps.

The probability here is that 50% of rooms will have traps, and only 1 in 3 traps will immediately trigger without warning, which I think is frequent enough to be dangerous but not frequent enough to slam a halt on exploration. I recommend attaching "Trigger" results to interactable objects whenever possible

If you feel that's too many, I'd use a d8, push "Trigger" to 8, "Danger Zone" to 7, "Signs" to 6, add a "Broken" column at 5, and leave the rest as nulls. That reduces the number of traps that are difficult to discover beforehand to 12.5%.

implies a trap that's been activated and not reset, or that has broken down from age. Broken traps are a great way to telegraph that there are traps around, and create a sense of danger without actually requiring time to resolve in any detail.

Here's an example of this larger table:

Happy new year!

Dec 14, 2020

Brief Pandemic Update

My offline 3.5 campaign shifted online in April and then came to an end in late August with a TPK and will be rebooting as a 5e game sometime in 2021. I've been invited to the same group's alternate 5e campaign, and will be joining sometime in January 2021. 

By request of several PCs, Verra is on hold until we can launch it in person (so probably spring 2021). I am floating the idea of an online Planescape-themed Pathfinder 2e game with some people on a private Discord but am currently experiencing some difficulty writing an inspiring campaign pitch for it.

I work for an organisation that does education reform and health education in low and moderate HDI countries, so as you can imagine, the past year has been a somewhat busy time for us, exacerbated by staff burnout as they go through lockdowns and quarantines, and the bulk of my writing energy during the pandemic has been going to that situation. I am a graphomaniac (a compulsive writer) so there is some leftover energy even after that, but then socialising is almost entirely text-based at this point as well, other than the occasional video call.

Therefore, it's been a perfect storm to keep the blog quiet - my gaming has been very minimal since August, and I haven't had much time or energy to write outside of work and the occasional email or Discord chat with friends. I wanted to make a short post to let people know that the blog is not dead, and will probably become more active in 2021 as my gaming picks up again. 

I'll try to get some updates in over the holidays as well. I've been thinking a bit about how Openquest is an ideal game for running a Bloodbornesque game because the active defense and short list of possible attack moves in combat match up well to creating the sort of dynamic, mobile combat that game aims for. I think with a few tweaks to the spell system, the inclusion of guns, and a modification of the basic weapons and armour list, you could probably put together something that captured its feel very well. More on that some other time.